I read this short story at least 30 years ago, in a collection. Each story of the collection had an afterword.

This story begins by the description by two scientists (sociologists ?) of an experiment: two identical twin brothers will be raised in completely different environments and when adult they'll be brought together to see how each of them would act.

So decades later they are assigned to the same project. There is a very strong SF component in it, but I forgot what.

They first oppose each other because of their different upbringings, but when the very difficult character of the project becomes apparent, they join forces, each bringing part of the solution precisely because they have different strong points. I don't remember any details.

The most salient point is the afterword : the author notes that he had violated the "Chekhov's gun" principle : the scientists seen in the beginning never come back to evaluate the results of the experiment.

1 Answer 1


"Heredity", a novelette by Isaac Asimov, first published in Astonishing Stories, April 1941, available at the Luminist archive. It was first reprinted in the 1952 paperback anthology Beyond the End of Time (Frederik Pohl, ed.), which is also available at the Internet Archive.

But you probably read it in some edition of The Early Asimov, which can be borrowed (for free but registration required) from the Internet Archive. In an afterword to "Heredity" in that collection, Asimov writes:

In connection with that story, I remember best a comment I received from a young fellow named Scott Feldman (who was then still in his teens but who was later, as Scott Meredith, to become one of the most important literary agents in the business). He disapproved of the story because I introduced two characters at the start who disappeared from the story and were never heard of again.

Wikipedia plot summary:

A pair of identical twins, Allen and George Carter, have been separated at birth as part of a twin study to settle the nature versus nurture question. Allen is raised on a highly developed Earth, while George has been raised in the provincial frontier society of Ganymede. On their twenty-fifth birthday, they are introduced to each other and given the task of running the family farm on Mars, where they have to work together in both day-to-day matters and unusual events. They find that they are forced to co-operate and also utilise 'primitive' technology in order to survive a major dust storm. After their initial mutual dislike, they develop a deep friendship.

  • 2
    Indeed, this is the afterword in the collection that I remembered
    – Alfred
    Commented May 29 at 7:09
  • Odd. "Gattaca" was on my mind, reading this question. That story was definitely not about twins, but an exploration of "nature vs. nurture", how brothers interact, and how both life events and external circumstances can affect an individual's degree of attainment/success. Congrats to finding the OP's story... Cheers! :-)
    – user174668
    Commented May 30 at 5:46

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